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This article was originally published in issue #24
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Randall amps' Diavlo range comes in head or combo versions and stretches from the very fashionable 1 Watt size, right up to 100 Watt monsters. Amp engineer and high gain guru Mike Fortin was the designer behind these all-tube hi gain beasts and it's clear from all the publicity (not to mention a string of signature models for artists including Kirk Hammett, Georges Lynch, Nuno Bettencourt, Scott Ian and Ola Englund!) that his brief was to go all-out for the Metal market which, historically, Randall had a large slice of, back in the 1970s, with users who included Deff Leppard and Dimebag Darrell. Anyway, I think 'Diavlo' is Italian for Devil, so the name is a clue as to what genre they would be at home in! For the record, the Diavlo range is also priced very competitively and looks to be aimed at those that are searching for that authentic Metal tone for a reasonable outlay.
Our review amp was one of the the RD 40 combos which has a very loud 40 Watts under the bonnet, powered by 2 x 12ax7s pre amp tubes and a pair of 6L6 output tubes. For its size, it is fairly heavy, which tells me it has a proper transformer in there. It has clean and dirty channels with a footswitchable boost for the dirty channel that gives more of everything. Sadly, our sample was missing its footswitch, so we were unable to demonstrate the footswitch on the video - but you've all seen a footswitch being used before, I'm quite sure!
On firing-up the amp we do in fact find a lot of gain on tap which is counter balanced by a nicely voiced clean channel. If you stick the right pedals in front of the clean channel, you could even cover music genres other than Rock or Metal with this amp, because the clean channel is voiced with a nice depth that covers the whole EQ spectrum. Dare I say Jazz or Blues? Yes, why not! If you are going to do a Jazz gig with a hi gain Randall amp set clean, then you have my respect! The onboard reverb also adds a little something to the proceedings, as long as you set it to feel it rather than hear it. I am not a fan of most onboard amp 'verbs, preferring to put something more studio sounding in the amps effects loop, which by the way, the RD 40 is also equipped with.
The dirty channel is much more genre specific, giving a lot of gain that is voiced slightly too bright for my tastes. On the other hand, when you get into drop tuning, this could be an advantage keeping it clear and tight. I know well how the EMGs in my '89 Valley Arts guitar sound with most gear, so I can tell that this is a bright sounding hi gain channel. It will definitely cut through. What worries me slightly is the lack of low end thump, even with the bass pot cranked, I still felt it wasn't quite there. Then again, this is a combo with a single 12” driver. Had we been sampling the head version of this through a 4x12 cab, I am sure it would be a different story. There was also quite a good signal to noise ratio when it came to hiss, by the way Some amps give you lots of gain, but also give you tons of hiss behind it. This seems to be very acceptable on this amp.
There is a lot of choice for Metal players with money these days, but not so much for those without. This new Randall is very competitively priced for an all-tube 12” combo and for the right player (but you will need to be the right player - this sets out to do a specific job and does it well, but it isn't for everyone) it's very good value for money. If you are looking for a well made, loud, all-tube amp for out and out Metal excess, the Randall RD40 C needs to be high on your list.